INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The clock already struck midnight on the Carolina Panthers’ (1-5) season. It’s over.
Carolina is the first team to fire its head coach this season, the squad is down to their third quarterback and many players are embroiled in trade speculation. Sunday’s lackluster 24-10 loss was predictable. The Panthers were the perfect remedy for the struggling Los Angeles Rams (3-3).
The only uncertainty about the Panthers’ Week 6 contest was how Carolina was going to lose its fifth game of the season.
Inept offense plagued the team once again.
Carolina managed just 203 yards total offense, went 2-10 on third down and was held scoreless in the second half. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey produced 158 of Carolina’s 203 total yards on offense. Carolina’s defense scored the team’s only touchdown.
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The Panthers are at the bottom of the NFL in total offense, averaging 260 yards per game.
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“You got to find a way to figure it out. Find a way to get a win. The approach ain’t gonna change,” Panthers quarterback PJ Walker said after the game. “I thought we had a hell of a week in practice. I thought we did some really good things in practice, but we came up short today.”
Unfortunately for Walker, the approach probably needs to change. The personnel and everything else are on the verge of change, too.
The franchise is in a state of dysfunction right now.
Steve Wilks is the interim head coach and multiple Panthers players are in the midst of trade rumors as the Nov. 1 deadline approaches.
One of those players, wide receiver Robbie Anderson, was asked to head to the showers early after he became disgruntled on the sideline. McCaffrey, who was the Panthers’ source of offense on Sunday, is also subject to trade rumors.
“All that stuff is out of my control,” McCaffrey said postgame about his name being mentioned in trade chatter. “My job right now is to be the best Carolina Panther I can be.”
Panthers players scoffed at the notion of trade rumors affecting the team’s performance on Sunday, but the team played with a lack of energy, especially in the second half. The mood in the postgame visiting locker room was somber.
“I think our problem is execution. Guys have to lock into their assignment and stop focusing on everything else. Guys just have to win. You just have to go out there and win your one-on-ones,” Panthers defensive end Brian Burns told USA TODAY Sports. “We have to start stacking good days. We just have to stack good days on top of each other.”
While the Panthers players attempt to stack good days, Panthers owner David Tepper and general manager Scott Fitterer are going to have to make important franchise-changing decisions regarding head coach, quarterback and other roster spots as they attempt to change the direction of the franchise.
Carolina hasn’t finished a season above .500 since 2017 and they are looking destined for another sub.-.500 year in 2022. The best path forward for the Panthers players is to just play for pride in their next 11 games.
The positive news for the franchise is they’ll likely own a top pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.